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Personal Biography of Dr. Elizabeth Heitman

Human Studies Review Board

Ethics Training for Members and Consultants Serving on the HSRB

Biographical Statement Elizabeth Heitman, PhD Vanderbilt University Medical Center March 2010 Elizabeth Heitman, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Medical Ethics, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society. She holds faculty appointments in the Department of Medicine's Division of General Medicine and the Department of Anesthesiology's Division of Critical Care. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Science. In her research and teaching, Dr. Heitman focuses on the cultural and religious aspects of medicine, biomedical science, and public health, particularly with respect to education and community experience. Her primary research addresses the evaluation of education in research ethics and the responsible conduct of research (RCR), and the cultural awareness and professional socialization of students and researchers. Dr. Heitman is the director of a multi-year, research ethics education program for Costa Rican biomedical researchers, in conjunction with the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San José, Costa Rica, and sponsored by the NIH´s Fogarty International Center. She recently completed a National Science Foundation-sponsored study of international science graduate students´ experience of US standards of practice in ethical research. She is a member of the Education Core of the Vanderbilt Institute of Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) and provides research ethics consultation as a member of VICTR's Biostatistics/Ethics Core. Her recent research collaborations include the Policy, Ethics, and Law Core of the South East Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infections and the NCRR-sponsored URICA study of institutional climate for ethical research. She is also a consultant to the NHLBI-sponsored Jackson Heart Study Undergraduate Training Program at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Heitman is a member of the Committee on Animal Models for Assessing Countermeasures to Bioterrorism Agents of the National Academies of Science Institute for Laboratory Animal Science. She serves on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Chinese Associate of Science and Technology – American Association for the Advancement of Science Ethics Education Initiative, as well as the Responsible Conduct of Research Education Committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and the National Advisory Panel on Research Integrity. At Vanderbilt Dr. Heitman is Co-Chair of the Ethics Committee and a member of the Critical Care Committee and Organ Donation Advisory Committee. In the Medical School, Dr. Heitman teaches responsible conduct of research, research ethics, community health, and global health. As a member of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society in the College of Arts and Science she teaches ethics in public health and responsible conduct of research, and advises a variety of independent study projects for undergraduates. Dr. Heitman is the author of numerous essays on ethics education, the role of institutional ethics committees in clinical medicine and health policy, and cultural aspects of health and health care. She is the coauthor of The Ethical Dimensions of the Biological and Health Sciences (with Drs. Ruth Ellen Bulger and Stanley Joel Reiser), and coeditor of An Optometrist's Guide to Clinical Ethics with Norman Bailey, O.D., M.P.H. Dr. Heitman received her undergraduate education at Rice University (B.A., 1979), where she majored in Romance Languages and received certification as a Spanish-English translator/ interpreter. She was a 1980 Thomas J. Watson Fellow in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, conducting independent research on Afro-Brazilian religion and spiritualist healing practices. She subsequently received her PhD in Religious Studies (1988) in the inter-institutional program in clinical ethics offered by Rice University and the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Her dissertation examined the ethical and practical challenges of providing hospital care for patients who do not speak English. Prior to joining the Vanderbilt faculty, Dr. Heitman was Professor of Surgery, Medicine, and Anesthesiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (2001-2003) in Jackson, Mississippi, and Associate Professor in the Management and Policy Sciences discipline of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston, Texas (1989-2001)


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